US, UK Joint Alert Blames Russia for 'Malicious' Cyber Attack

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While representatives of the UK and the U.S. were united in strongly condemning the attacks, the Russian government has denied involvement.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that the White House halted Syria-related sanctions against Russian Federation announced a day earlier by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

They advised users to disable the Smart Install feature as "access to the device may facilitate malicious cyber adversaries gaining access to the information that flows through the device" the centre said at the time. NCSC head Ciaran Martin said that the British agency has been tracking the hacking campaign for about a year, and the groups behind the campaign for longer than that. Targets were described as "primarily government and private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure providers, and the Internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors".

SBS News understands thousands of unsecure Australian routers were accessed and Defence Minister Marise Payne confirmed there were "potentially 400" Australian companies affected.

Officials have encouraged companies and individuals to protect their equipment by changing passwords and configuring devices to prevent them from being hijacked. "The UK and USA have separately and together already called out bad behavior by Russian Federation in cyberspace, but never before have we joined together to give the same advice to our industry and citizens". However, they did list preventative measures and signs to look for that would indicate that the network has been compromised by one of these attacks.

The report also includes guidance on how network operators can mitigate some of the weaknesses agencies identified.

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'When we see malicious cyber activity, whether it be from the Kremlin or other malicious nation-state actors, we are going to push back'. "We are disappointed by the fact that such serious claims have been made publicly", a representative from the Russian Embassy in London said. The intrusions could be leveraged for future operations.

But the officials said that the extent of Russia's successful penetration of Western computer networks was not fully clear, nor was the Kremlin's ultimate intent.

It is not believed home users were directly impacted.

It comes from United Kingdom and USA authorities who have issued a joint cybersecurity alert for the first time ever to warn people of the threat.

The full scope and impact of the operation is not fully known, and White House and DHS officials said they were releasing the information now in the hopes that businesses and other affected entities come forward if they have witnessed similar suspicious activity.

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